Jamaica Overview: Economy
Jamaica's most important export crop is sugarcane, from which rum and molasses are also made. The nation's other agricultural exports include the famed Blue Mt. coffee, bananas, citrus fruits, and yams. Most of these crops are grown on large plantations. Small farms also produce ginger, cocoa, pimento, ackee, chickens, and goats. Mining is a major source of wealth; since large, easily accessible deposits of bauxite were discovered in 1942, Jamaica has become one of the world's leading suppliers of this ore. Along with the alumina made from it, bauxite accounts for almost half of Jamaica's foreign exchange.
Tourism, centered on the north coast, is the biggest earner of exchange. Among Jamaica's internationally known resort areas are Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. Clothing constitutes the chief export item of the manufacturing sector. Jamaica's other industries (mainly concentrated in the Kingston area) include oil refining, sugar and tobacco processing, flour milling, and the production of rum, metal, paper, chemicals, and telecommunications equipment. Since the late 1960s industry has generated a greater share of the national income than agriculture. Remittances from Jamaicans working abroad are also a major source of income. The United States and Canada, Jamaica's top trading partners, also provide much-needed capital for economic development.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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